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Navy plane passengers safe after emergency landing

A dozen people are safe after billowing smoke in a naval aircraft cabin prompted an emergency landing at Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport earlier this afternoon.

A U.S. Navy Lockheed P-3 Orion originally headed south with 12 people on board landed safely in Medford about 2:30 p.m. Friday, some 25 minutes after it made a distress call, according to Airport Director Bern Case.

No injuries were reported and the aircraft landed smoothly, but airport staff, along with Medford Fire-Rescue and Mercy Flights, were waiting at the runway to make sure no one suffered injuries from smoke inhalation.

"They had quite a bit of smoke on board," Case said.

The four-engine turboprop maritime surveillance plane had been headed south, though Case was unsure the plane's intended destination. Earlier in the day it passed Jackson County, only turning around after the smoke appeared.

Case couldn't speculate as to what happened, and said the plane will be stationed at the airport until someone familiar with that type of aircraft can inspect it. The plane ceased smoking on its way to the airport, but crew felt the plane should be inspected before flying again.

"I expect it'll be here for a while," Case said.

Because the emergency landing involved a military aircraft, Case said policies and the airport's involvement is different than when a commercial aircraft needs to land. He said the quick end to the emergency is what staff likes to see.

"As those things go, it went pretty well," Case said.

— Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.